Howard County officials took delivery yesterday of three replacement buses that will be used to upgrade the Columbia Association's aging ColumBus shuttle fleet.
The three buses -- which cost a total of $496,000 -- were paid for mostly through a Federal Transit Administration grant. The remaining 20 percent was split between the state Mass Transit Administration and the county government.
The ColumBus system has eight buses to operate its existing four routes. Three of the routes serve Columbia, and one route reaches the county government complex in Ellicott City.
Although the county government owns the buses, the nonprofit Columbia Association has operated the system since 1967. County officials are considering a plan to replace ColumBus with a county-run system in two years.
The new $189,000 buses are 30-foot Bluebird diesel buses equipped with wheelchair lifts. They will replace similar buses that have 300,000 and 500,000 miles of wear.
The old buses likely will be sold as surplus. Federal and state money generally helps replace buses after a decade or more than 300,000 miles of service.